The Fifth Light!

The Catch

Which of these two pictures do you prefer?

I prefer the one on the right – and I hope you do. Not because the lady is smiling, but because her eyes are smiling. There’s just a little spot of light reflected into the camera. You can add a catchlight, but shouldn’t really need to – as long as the keylight isn’t too high, and as long as the actor or actress doesn’t do the natural thing and shade his or her eyes from the glare. Sometimes you don’t want to see a catchlight – a villain shouldn’t look too handsome. And sometimes you can overdo things:

But maybe that’s the effect you want. Good – go ahead. Don’t be afraid to modify the basic lighting setup to enhance a shot or a sequence. If the happy couple are enjoying a cosy dinner somewhere romantic, adjust the lighting so that it’s a little pinky-orange (or filter it later in post-production). And if the cosy mood turns ugnly, why not ‘ugly’ the lights? Slightly. A greeny-blue filter in front of a lamp can make a scene seem gritty. And you can enhance that ‘down’ feeling later in post-production by reducing the saturation levels. Then there are filters. Lots of them. I’ll just mention a couple:

The Fog Filter




Same lady, same camera. Plus a fog filter.

It softens things in a way that’s totally unlike defocussing. May kinds available – or you could borrow a pair of tights from a passing lady. Honestly, they work almost as well. And maybe add a pinkish tinge to the subject.

The Star Filter




A star filter adds – well, a starry effect to highlights. But sorry – you can’t do that with a pair of tights.

The Graduated Filter




A graduated ND (neutral density) filter can be used to darken the sky and make it a more intense blue. Watch almost any Top Gear – or Grand Tour, otherwise known as Son of Top Gear.

And many more

Most serious photographers carry a polarizing filter. An UV (ultra-violet), skylight can also be useful. The picture can also be ‘filtered’ during the editing process; colours can be corrected, gamma tweaked, and saturation adjusted. It takes more time, but is well worth doing. Happy film-making.

And that’s quite enough on lighting. Are filters part of lighting?